After acquiring forward Tobias Harris ahead of the 2019 trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers fell just one win shy of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
With that in mind, it made sense that the team wanted to run things back.
So much so that in the opening hours of Free Agency, Harris agreed to a five-year max deal worth $180 million to remain in Philadelphia. While they lost free agents Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, the Sixers acquired Josh Richardson from Miami and signed savvy free agent veteran Al Horford to add to their starting lineup.
As Philadelphia continues to build for the future, plenty of eyes are on the development of Ben Simmons in his third season which, according to Harris, is going very well based on summer workouts.
Tobias Harris says Ben Simmons' jumper is "looking really good" and he hit two against him in pickup 🤔 pic.twitter.com/YkuaMM3Wf5- Dime (@DimeUPROXX) July 12, 2019
On Saturday, as the Sixers held a press conference for each of the six players they have made deals with this offseason, Harris raved about what he's seen from team's All-Star point guard this summer: "He's in the gym religiously every day, grinding and getting better - he's in great shape."
"Everybody was trying to figure why I was guarding him at the 3-point line," Harris continued. "It's really because he hit two of them - I dared him to shoot two [3-pointers] and he hit two in a row, so that's why I was there. He's made big improvements on his game - his jump shot is looking really good, he has the confidence to shoot it."
3-point shooting will be a focal point for Philadelphia, who finished in the bottom half of the league in made 3-pointers and lost its top shooter in Redick. While Simmons shouldn't be expected to develop into a lethal perimeter threat, his development into a respectable shooter can do wonders for the team's spacing as opposing defences won't be able to dare him to shoot as Harris did during the summer session.
There have been a number of players to develop a perimeter shot over the years, but Simmons is a unique case - through two seasons, he's missed all 17 of his 3-point attempts. In the 2018-19 season, the former No. 1 overall pick attempted just six 3s, four of which were heaves or rushed attempts to beat the buzzer.
The other two were products of teams daring him to shoot:
It's clear that these opportunities will continue to present themselves but as Harris said, it is a matter of confidence for Simmons.
Philadelphia is expected to be among the Eastern Conference's elite in the upcoming season - should Simmons develop the skill and confidence to make defences pay for daring him to shoot, the Sixers could emerge as the favourite to advance to the Finals after making a number of moves this offseason.